Spontaneity, Art Work

I thought I left this all behind.  A few souvenirs survive.  And then I found reflecting on these scraps was invigorating me and turned me to seeing a larger picture.  So this is recursion at play–reverberations and resonances…

This page takes its name from a Japanese word, ZUIHITSU  It is “A spontaneous jotting down of one’s thoughts.” Literally, in Japanese, it means “Follow the brush.”  It is is harmony with the joy I take in spontaneity … my play at Asian calligraphy drifted into “grass writing” and dominated my doodling during one of the occasionally boring graduate seminars I attended–like my childhood finger paintings.  I encouraged students in my Art & Organism seminar to read about Kenko and the spirit of “follow the brush.”  We aggressively explore the creative power of spontaneous mind-maps, braced by a belief in the value of of one of the spontaneous mind-map’s most valued attributes: authenticity.  

Lance Morrow, in an arresting essay on writing essays, compares the Japanese monk Kenko’s thoughtful pieces with those of Montaigne, commonly recognized as the first such exercises in the West. Both attempt to put down on paper the fleeting thoughts, the painted words that come to us when we ask ourselves, as did Montaigne in his château, “Que sais-je?” What do I know? Can I put what I know into words? Can I paint my thoughts to give my words some color? (from Phil Cousineau’s The Painted Word (p. 392).   Not quite as provocative as the pre-Socratic philosopher Gorgias (d. 375 BC) asserting that “Nothing exists … Even if it did exist, it could not be known … Even if it could be known, it could not be communicated … even if it could be communicated, it would not be understood.”

All that skepticism aside, Agamemnon (1963) was the culmination of my last year’s work with Elizabeth Korn at Drew University, perhaps encouraged to some degree by comments from a visiting critic, Clement Greenberg, a Jackson Pollack enthusiast.  



NEXUS of A&O notes: